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Wednesday, August 8
(Previous entries available here)

Good Afternoon! 

It’s Jem here again, taking time out from the excavation to bring you up to date with the new goings on at the Ness of Brodgar. 

Well, towards the end of last week I was placed within the beautiful cruciform shaped structure that GUARD partially uncovered in trench P.

It’s a great area to work in as not only are the walls wonderfully made and preserved but the soil is amazing to trowel!

Within the structure, the west side seems to have been kept structurally intact throughout its use, but the east side seems to have undergone several phases of remodelling and reconstruction, assuming that the structure was originally of the typical cruciform shape well recognised in Orkney.

This basically means that the West side has it’s beautiful, neat and tidy wall well defined with little to no clutter round about…the east side, on the other hand, is a jumble of rocks and stones with wall faces appearing and disappearing here, there and everywhere!

It is hoped and expected that as more and more of the rubble i.e. the rocks and stones that don’t obviously belong to a wall, is removed the different building phases will become more and more apparent but it is a long and lengthy procedure and there are points were I just want to throw down my trowel and get a big mattock on the job!

Obviously I restrain myself as there is a strict and systematic way to excavate sites of this complexity and importance and I fully appreciate that. I think I’ve covered my back well on that one, now lets move on! 

While I was settling in to my area other fantastic things were happening elsewhere on the site…

In trench N, one of the smaller trenches that was opened to the west of trench J in order to track the massive wall, a wall was found! It was uncovered by site supervisor Martin Carruthers to the North of the trench, quite a bit further north than expected which is placing doubts in people's minds as to whether this wall is the continuation of the wall from trench J or whether it is part of a different structure that didn’t show up in the geophysical Survey.

Either way this small section of wall is really amazing…it almost rivals my beautiful walling!

I think I might be talking about walls too much…lets get off that subject. You might remember that in trench J a slab stone was found to have amazing Neolithic artwork carved onto one side of it not far from were 2 other pieces of carved stone slabs were found last year on top of the triangular cist…well, those earlier 2 pieces, which fit together perfectly, were brought to site and the new one was found to match up with them too, like a jigsaw puzzle! Very exciting stuff! 

Today there has been a massive cleaning operation to get the massive trench P ready for photographing. This involves lightly troweling the surface of the entire trench to bring out the different colours of the soils and to get rid of all the massive footprints! We finished this about an hour ago and the site director Nick Card proceeded to photograph the beautiful structures and confusing wall faces…everyone else stood on top of the massive spoil heap to admire their work and findings so far…then Nick ordered us to make ourselves useful so here I am, hiding in the hut! 

That’s pretty much all I have to say for today, I am now going to return to my special area and start removing some more of the rubble from within the North wall of the cruciform…this is a very satisfying little bit as the rubble pushes up right against the well constructed wall and hides it away so as I remove the rubble the beauty beneath reveals itself and makes me smile.

I’ll remind you again that we do tours every day (mon – fri) at 11am and 3pm so if you haven’t already come and visited us please do! And for those who have already been, come again!  

Hope to see you soon


The Ness of Brodgar
Orkney's World Heritage Site
The Ring of Brodgar
Archaeology around the Ness of Brodgar
The Standing Stones of Stenness
The Barnhouse Settlement
Orkney Archaeological Trust
Orkney College
Historic Scotland